On January 12, 2018, Detectives in the Persons Crimes Unit of the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) at the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office initiated a child abuse investigation after it was alleged that Kaitlyn Ecker, 20 years of age, had involved a two-year old child in methamphetamine and marijuana use inside her home. Multiple witnesses were interviewed who stated that the two-year old child smoked marijuana with Ms. Ecker and that people “joked” about the child’s ability to “roll joints” for her. Multiple persons stated Ms. Ecker kept drugs inside the home, had heard Ms. Ecker allowed the two-year old child to smoke methamphetamine with a pipe, and alleged that Ms. Ecker used methamphetamine herself.
On January 19, 2018, CID Detectives executed a search warrant at Ms. Ecker’s residence, located in Crawfordville Florida. During the search, multiple items were found in Ms. Ecker’s bedroom consistent with marijuana and methamphetamine use. Those items included two glass pipes (the type used to smoke methamphetamine), each with residue inside; a plastic pill bottle converted into a handmade smoking device with burned residue; two grinders (the type consistent with marijuana usage), one of which had marijuana inside; a digital scale; and a small plastic bag containing marijuana residue located within a basket containing children’s toys. Presumptive field tests were performed on the two glass pipes and they both tested positive for methamphetamine. Presumptive field tests were performed on the marijuana residue and paraphernalia which tested positive for marijuana. Kaitlyn Ecker was placed under arrest for possession of marijuana (less than 20 grams) and possession of drug paraphernalia on that date.
On January 19, 2018, CID, with the assistance of Wakulla County Emergency Medical Service personnel, executed a search warrant upon Kaitlyn Ecker for a blood sample and hair sample and upon the two-year old child for a blood sample and hair sample. The blood and hair samples were forwarded to a laboratory to determine the drug history of Ms. Ecker and the two-year old child. On March 15, 2018, CID Detectives received the laboratory report and subsequently interviewed a laboratory technician. The toxicology results concluded that the two-year old tested positive for both methamphetamine and amphetamine and the findings were “chronic” rather than “acute.” “Acute” findings would have indicated “a one-time exposure or within a couple of hours before the sample was collected.” “Chronic” indicated that the two-year old was exposed “several times or on one or more occasions.” During a custodial interrogation, Kaitlyn Ecker told CID Detectives she shared her bedroom with the two-year old child. Ms. Ecker admitted to smoking marijuana as recently as the night before, but away from the child. Ms. Ecker denied ownership of the glass pipes located in her bedroom, but admitted to smoking methamphetamine approximately four months before. Ms. Ecker denied ever smoking or ingesting drugs in the presence of the two-year old and denied any knowledge of the child being exposed to drugs.
On April 12, 2018, CID Detectives obtained an arrest warrant charging Kaitlyn Ecker with child abuse, as well as arrest warrants charging her with Lewd and Lascivious Battery and Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor from an unrelated investigation conducted by CID. On April 12, 2018, Ms. Ecker was arrested by authority of the arrest warrant and was booked into the Wakulla County Jail.